“The line between disorder and order lies in logistics.”  Sun Tzu


Logistics is defined as the detailed coordination of a complex operation involving many people, facilities, and supplies. Logistics for independent adventurers often means researching, route planning, fact-finding, and considering every imaginable and unimaginable detail solo. For some, it’s mentally tedious and can even feel like a lonely chore. Personally, I find adventure planning to be a geographical, sociological, and historical learning opportunity that enhances my pre-trip excitement.

While navigating the logistical nightmare of “‘Finding Tuktoyaktuk”, it became rather clear that I would have to create and pen my own guidebook. There was no “Walking the Dempster for Dummies,” or “Pack-rafting The Yukon’s Southern Lakes” to refer to. Based on my research, it seemed no one had pack-rafted from Bennet to Whitehorse and only one man had walked the Dempster all the way to Tuktoyaktuk.

In the early stages of planning, I focused on five main categories: Routes, Transportation, Equipment, Food, and Shipping. These categories created a basic foundation to build upon.


First, I had to determine a hiking, pack-rafting, and walking route that would take us from Skagway, Alaska to Tuktoyaktuk, Canada. Mileage, time frames, and resupply points felt less overwhelming after breaking the route down into three separate legs.

Stage 1Backpack the Chilkoot Trail to Bennet Lake ( 33 miles)

Stage 2Pack-raft Bennet Lake to Dawson City  (600 miles)

Stage 3 Walk from Dawson City to Tuktoyaktuk  (580 miles)


After reading that day-to-day commuting and travel accounts for thirty-five percent of an average person’s environmental footprint, I made a conscious decision to use alternative modes of travel that were kinder to the planet. Trains and boats are considered less harmful than planes as they do not release carbon emissions into the upper atmosphere. I wondered if it was possible to travel to Skagway via train and boat.

Yes, it is possible! Even though it wasn’t the most time efficient, I took the Amtrak Starlight train and the Alaska Marine Highway Ferry from Los Angeles to  Skagway, Alaska. Besides taking the slow scenic route, the train and ferry generously accommodated my one hundred and fifty pounds of expedition luggage.

With my Alaska travel arrangements booked, my focus turned to the transportation of our pack-rafts, paddling gear, and food resupply to Bennet, British Columbia. Inaccessible by road, Bennet can only be reached by backpacking the Chilkoot Trail or by taking the White Pass and Yukon train.

Upon completion of the Chilkoot Trail, we were faced with two transport options. Either board a train back to Skagway to retrieve our gear or have our pack-rafting equipment delivered directly to Bennet. From a time efficiency perspective, it made little sense to backtrack or retrace our steps. After speaking with Anne Moore, (from the Dyea-Chilkoot Trail Transport company) I felt confident having her transport our gear across the Canadian border to Fraser and using the historic White Pass & Yukon train to deliver our pack-rafts to Bennet.

Not only was this decision time and cost-effective, but it also allowed us to have rest and preparation days before beginning the second leg of our journey.


After determining our multi-disciplinary route, it was now time to focus on the gear needed for the backpacking, pack-rafting, and push-carting sections of the trip.

Knowing we’d be subjected to wet weather on the Chilkoot Trail and gusty winds on the Southern Lakes, I opted for my time-tested Alps Mountaineering Zephyr 2 tent. While it may not be ultra-light, this tent is quick to set up, has kept me dry in nasty monsoonal storms, and held its ground during forty miles an hour winds.

As someone who lives with Reynaud’s Syndrome and Rheumatoid Arthritis, it’s critical I stay warm. My sleep system consists of a down sleeping bag, bag liner, ultra-light bag cover, down socks, and down balaclava. For some, it may seem like thermal overkill; however, I consider this a preventive measure to help reduce the possibility of Reynaud’s and Arthritic flare-ups.

Our pack-rafts, dry suits, and dry pants were custom-made by a manufacturer in China. Besides being far more affordable, we could tailor the gear to our liking.

For the Dempster Highway, I realized we would need a push cart to carry all our gear and supplies. Ordering jogging strollers and bike trailer carts online was counterproductive. Shoddy wheel alignments caused them to veer to either the extreme left or right. These carts were not Dempster Highway worthy. In the eleventh hour, I resorted to having a push-cart custom-made by a fabricator in Oregon and arranged for it to be shipped to Dawson City.

Considering our expedition was starting so early in the season, we had expected winter conditions on both the Chilkoot Trail and along the Yukon’s Southern Lakes. Hopeful for summer conditions by the time we reached Whitehorse, I also expected to be walking into autumn and perhaps winter on the Dempster Highway. After considering local temperature averages, I knew we could experience temperatures from five to eighty degrees Fahrenheit. Keeping this in mind, seasonal clothing and gear supply boxes were shipped to accommodate the changes in temperature and weather.

Being disconnected from the power grids of the city, we found ourselves solar dependent. Keeping our iPhone’s and Inreach’s (satellite two-way texting and navigation system) charged was a necessity. The combination of portable battery chargers and solar panels kept us connected and eliminated the fear of having a dead device.


Because of the remoteness of the areas we were traveling, we shipped food resupply boxes to Skagway, Bennet, Carcross, Whitehorse and Dawson City. Once we arrived in Whitehorse, we purchased food from local supermarkets for our paddle to Dawson City and for our walk up the Dempster. My only own concern was being able to find soy free products. Being allergic to soy, I am very limited as to what I can and can’t eat.

Soy is now used as a filler in most processed foods, even Crystal Light.

Soy poisoning creates an immediate migraine and vomiting that can last from a few days to a week. Soy is like kryptonite to me and it can create a trip of misery if consumed.

Jeanetta and Evelyn, from the N.W.T. Arctic Visitors Center in Dawson City

The North West Territory Visitor Center in Dawson City arranged our food drops along the Dempster Highway. Tombstone Territorial Park, Eagle Plains Lodge, a local Fort McPherson family, and the Inuvik Visitor Center were more than happy to receive and store our resupply boxes. Staff at the Yukon and North-West Territories visitor centers are more than just a welcoming, friendly face. As community ambassadors, these ladies played key roles in our preparation for the Dempster. Despite every obstacle and set back we encountered in Dawson City, the staff rallied around us and encouraged us every step of the way.


For adventure trips within the U.S.A., I have always relied on sending food resupply boxes via USPS General Delivery mail.

Unfortunately, Canada does not permit International General Delivery mail. I’m forever grateful to the local businesses in the Yukon and North-West Territories that agreed to accept our food and gear packages. Without their help, organizing this trip would have been problematic.

Photo by C Black

(Stroller pictures and YouTube Video by C Black)

FINDING TUKTOYAKTUK – Mission Accomplished


On October 16th, 2018, we completed our four and half month journey from Skagway, Alaska to the Canadian Arctic town of Tuktoyaktuk. Honoring the Tlingit’s trading path, we hiked the Chilkoot trail and crossed the border into British Columbia, Canada.


Following the Klondike Gold Rush route, we then pack-rafted 900km along the Yukon River to the heart of the former gold rush town, Dawson City.


Using a push cart to carry 45kg of supplies, we became the first women to walk the Dempster and the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway to the Arctic Ocean.  Click here to read more.


I’ve officially been home for one week now. The reality of our accomplishment has yet to sink in. Reintegrating back into society after an extended period of time in the wilderness can be a mental challenge and social adjustment. The sounds of civilization seem amplified and I’m living in a currency that few people understand.


How does one describe or attempt to explain the spirit of the Yukon and The North West Territories?  Is it a feeling, an action, or a way of life? Does the geographical remoteness of the North create a deep sense of community, caring, and connection?


Since returning, I have wondered how I can adequately thank everyone who helped, hugged, and supported us throughout this journey. The encouragement, kindness, curiosity, and campsite visits from complete strangers carried us through the chilliest of nights and never-ending hill climbs.

In the coming weeks and months, I will start to blog about the expedition and my experiences in the North.

Create Your Adventure,

Remote Leigh



At the end of Utah’s Highway 316, lies three hundred million years of geological activity and an opportunity to stand on the edge of the world.

Eroded by wind, water, frost, and gravity, the Goosenecks of the San Juan River are a living testament to the earth’s skeleton.

The Goosenecks are a series of tight loops that geologists refer to as entrenched meanders. Weaving back and forth for over five miles, the San Juan’s meanders measure one linear mile.


Beyond the visible Goosenecks, the San Juan River continues to twist and turn before spilling into Lake Powell.

In my opinion, the Goosenecks are Utah’s answer to Arizona’s Horseshoe Bend, but without the crowds.

After setting up camp, the Perfect Stranger, Shadow, and I cautiously walked along the canyon’s rim towards the Goosenecks observation point.

The one thousand foot drop of geological madness to the silty San Juan River left me awestruck. Feeling awestruck has as much to do with how we look at the world as it does with the world we are looking at. Could being in love cause mother nature’s metamorphosis to appear more magical? Does sharing awestruck moments reveal a couple’s capacity for wonder and surprise? Can awestruck moments serve as markers to the sacredness of time and life? Sharing awestruck moments with the Perfect Stranger reminded me of our beginning and mother nature’s role in the ever-developing story of us.


On a personal level, mother nature feels like the family I never had. She has been present for every adult birthday, seasonal holiday, personal milestone, heartaches, heartbreaks, and professional achievements. Mother Nature fills the void of not having family. Having no direct experience of going home for the holidays or sharing holidays with family members leaves me feeling awkward, out-of-place, and downright uncomfortable. Celebrating seasonal holidays in a traditional way feels very foreign. I do not feel the same happiness or joy that others seem to be experiencing. It’s no wonder I have opted to spend holidays backpacking or camping. I’m with family and it’s familiar. For this reason, sharing adventure trips with the Perfect Stranger is sacred to me. I’m taking her home to meet the family!

Under the watchful eye of Shadow, the Perfect Stranger carefully navigated her way down to a rocky outcropping.

Standing guard, Shadow disapprovingly watched as the Perfect Stranger ventured down the canyon wall towards the precipice.


Standing on the edge of the world, the Perfect Stranger, the love of my life, found herself in an awestruck moment. Captured in her natural habitat, these moments bridged the distance between the remoteness of the landscape and the connection I felt to her.

Awestruck moments require connection with mother nature as opposed to the conquering narrative we have manifested in our minds. Does this sense of conquer originate from within? Mountain climbers frequently describe the physical and mental struggles endured in summit attempts.  Does the internalized sense of struggle and the intense feeling of accomplishment evolve into a conquering state of mind? Is it ignorance or arrogance that fuels our sense of conquer? Perhaps a connection to the planet reveals one’s vulnerability to self and others.

Returning to camp, the Perfect Stranger, Shadow, and I ate a light dinner while patiently waiting for the sun to set. Outside of the gentle breeze, the world felt remarkably still.


For the next hour,  the Perfect Stranger and I bathed in the pink, orange, and purple hues that painted the Monument Valley skyline. There was no one here, it was the off-season; a time when solitude can be found.


In the final twilight minutes before darkness, mother nature saturated the sky with brush strokes of pink and purple. Mother nature’s canvas was complete, signaling the end of our day.

After surviving a cold windy night, I was happy to get up and share my morning coffee with the sandstone buttes in the distance.

Twenty-four hours ago, the Perfect Stranger, Shadow, and I were exploring the dirt back roads of Monument Valley. This morning, I had a base camp with a view.

In a few hours, we would be leaving a state park that possesses the greatest example of an entrenched meander in North America. A state park that resides at the end of a highway. A state park that many a road tripper has unknowingly and unwillingly driven by. A state park without hiking trails, shade, or water. A state park that allows you to dance on the edge of the world.


”I think that one of the things that you learn is that falling in love and being in love with someone is a rarity. That you don’t fall in love as many times as you think you’re going to. And when you do, it’s really special; it’s really important.” Julianne Moore


Fifteen days. Fifteen very long, cold, snowy days, since my airport goodbye with the perfect stranger.

Even though we maintained constant communication via text, email, and phone, it wasn’t enough! I missed her and I wanted more than a friendship. Call me impulsive, may be even slightly pathetic. I didn’t care; I made my intentions known.

Regardless of the outcome, it felt like a win-win situation. I valued the sacredness of our friendship and I was committed to maintaining it. I knew romanticizing our friendship could complicate our lives. Somehow, I wasn’t worried; either way, friendship or relationship, it was a lifelong commitment.


While many lesbians in my community joke about having U-Haul relationships, I wanted my friendship and potential romance to be different. I was invested; trading the U-Haul for the long haul!


After receiving a positive response to my New Year’s video, the perfect stranger and I planned an immediate adventure. Consider it round two; no longer where we strangers, and we weren’t simply just friends.


January 5, 2015 I left the snow melt of Vermilion Cliffs, bound for Prescott airport. Slightly panicked, as I had slept through my alarm, I could only hope the perfect stranger’s flight had been delayed; otherwise, I would be officially running late. 

Being late was out of the norm for me. It was unfamiliar as falling in love with a perfect stranger. Growing up in Australia, there were only two excusable reasons for tardiness. Either your mother was in the hospital or you had been killed. That was it! Any other excuses, explanations, or reasons were deemed unacceptable.


As I looked at my watch, I made peace with the reality of the situation. I was going to be late. I had 3 hours to complete a four hour drive. Outside of refraining from roadside photo opportunities and limiting my bathroom breaks; there was simply no way to make up the time.


Note to self – I do not recommend holding your pee on a long drive. The bladder strain and fear of peeing yourself while driving is not enjoyable. Airport entrances are not attractive when your hands are dam walling your urethra.


After a loving embrace and an apology for being late, the perfect stranger and I headed to the Flagstaff Nordic Center. For the next few days we would be yurting in the Coconino National forest. That’s right, I said yurting!


Like two excited kids waking up on Christmas morning, the perfect stranger and I headed into the Nordic Center for check in. As the only overnight guests, we were given free reign picking our yurt location. Still struggling with her knee injury, I suggested to the perfect stranger we ease up on the miles and stay in a yurt close to the lodge.


She wasn’t having it! Not in this lifetime anyway. The perfect stranger insisted we hike to our yurt. Who was I to tell her no? She said she could do it and I believed her.


After a quick lunch, the perfect stranger and I put on your packs and hit the trail. With minimal snow, snowshoes weren’t necessary; however, they were still a Nordic Center requirement.




Less than a mile into our hike, we decided the snowshoes were more a hindrance than a help. Without adequate snow, it felt like we were dry-landing it in flippers. They had to go!!


Celebrating our foot freedom, the perfect stranger took a selfie shot that captured the spirit of our connection. There was no denying it; we were a dynamic duo, a perfect pair, a true team. This is what happiness looks like!


With the yurt in plain sight, the perfect stranger and I made a bee-line for base camp. Neither one of us had been backcountry glamping before; it was another shared first.




After unpacking our gear, the perfect stranger and I took a late afternoon stroll through the forest. With less than an hour until sunset, we didn’t venture too far away from camp. We were on a mission though, in search of a pink sunset!


During our maiden voyage, the perfect stranger explained to me that pink was not only her favorite color, it was a lifestyle!


Can one color really inspire a way of life? Can one color determine your choice of attire, kitchenware, and car accessories? Who knew one color could bring so much joy. What better way to honor the perfect stranger than be giving her a sky of pink.


As we left the yurt, I offered my hand to the perfect stranger. She responded by holding mine. While some may consider hand holding  a simple gesture, I consider it sacred. Out of all the people on the planet, the perfect stranger chose to hold my hand. Now that’s special!


Patiently waiting for our pink sky, the perfect stranger and I made ourselves comfortable in the snow.


Life for me has never been about personal milestones, it has always come down to magic moments. This was one of them!


With her beautiful brain resting in my lap, not even the frozen ground could stop my heart from melting. I had helplessly fallen in love with a woman I had yet to kiss. How is that even possible? Is this the way love is meant to be? Could getting to know someone without fast-tracking physical intimacy be key to a long-term love affair? Our pending first kiss felt inevitable; it was more of matter of when than if. For now, my focus was finding a pink sky for the love of my life.


Less than ten minutes down the trail, a pink hue sky appeared through the trees.


Captivated, the perfect stranger stared into the pink empyrean as if it offered some type of cosmic healing. Perhaps color psychologists are right: pink is seen as the color of hope. Pink inspires warm and comforting feelings, creating a sense that everything will be okay.


Pink is a symbol of compassion, nurturing, and love. It’s a color that represents the sweetness and innocence of the child in all of us. Pink is also said to be the color of uncomplicated emotions.


I feel color psychologists had exquisitely described the perfect stranger. Perhaps she is more a pink goddess than my perfect stranger. Either way, I knew pink defined her. It made her happy and brought her peace.

Pink and the perfect stranger are my package deal in the most uncomplicated way. Here’s to pink! 


“For many years I was a self-appointed inspector of snowstorms and rainstorms and did my duty faithfully, though I never received payment for it.” Henry David Thoreau


Have you ever spent an entire night chatting on the phone with a love interest? What starts as a well-intentioned goodnight phone call slowly evolves into an endless conversation about life and love. Is it commonality that bonds two humans over the phone or is it the soothing sound of a familiar voice? Is love founded in chemistry and bonded in chemicals? What fuels a marathon long phone call? Could oxytocin be to blame? Can the social bonding love hormone be activated during phone conversations? I am saying YES because I felt chemically altered after hanging up the phone with the perfect stranger. So altered, that I could not believe my eyes when I let Shadow outside to use the bathroom. I saw snow; it was snowing in the desert!


Shadow and I left the front yard and headed over to Highway 89A. Being off season, there were no tourists traveling along the road. Vermilion Cliffs lay quiet from a population standpoint. The majority of seasonal workers had gone home for the winter. All that remained was a handful of staff members and a few local residents. This is what the dead of winter looks like in a remote outpost town.


After our slippery walk along 89A, Shadow and I returned home to have some coffee and banana bread with Min. As tired as I felt, I decided to stay up for the day. Sleep could wait, there was so little time and too many photo opportunities. Snow outside my back door was a dream come true!


Just before noon, Min, Shadow, and I headed through the backyard towards the cliffs. Based on the weather report, the storm would continue for another thirty-six hours. It made me wonder; how much snow could we expect in Vermilion Cliffs? Six inches, eight inches, a few feet? I didn’t care, bring it on! I felt so fortunate to be hiking in a desert snowstorm.



After less than a mile on trail, we found ourselves in the eye of the storm. The snow was falling at over an inch an hour and the wind was starting to howl. Shadow didn’t seem to mind, perhaps he felt like a seasoned snow dog after his white Christmas encounter.


Halfway up the cliffs,` we decided to take a break and shoot some pictures. The storm was now in full force, white out conditions were looming.



Late in afternoon, Min broke the bad news to Shadow. How do you tell a dog it’s time to go home? You don’t, you just start walking!


Taking one final view into the canyon, Shadow, Min and I made a beeline for the house.

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Leading the way and setting the pace, Shadow ensured our return in record time. Maybe Shadow was keen to get home and warm his paws by the heater.



Less than a hundred yards from the house, I turned around to look at the cliffs. I was awestruck! There were no words to describe the view. Not even in my wildest dreams, could I have ever imagined a desert winter wonderland on New Year’s Eve.


Neither could Shadow for that matter!

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